In this next installment of our series on 2013′s new cohort of Wadsworth International Fellows, we meet Xinyuan Wang of Hong Kong, a digital anthropologist who studies at University College London!
My research interest in Digital Anthropology developed during my master’s degree at UCL. UCL’s Digital Anthropology program is the world’s first program focusing on the use of digital media from an anthropological perspective. My master dissertation, which received a Distinction, analyzed particularly the usage and social impact of social media among Taiwanese in London.
My doctoral research pertains to a deeper examination of the use and social impact of digital media among Chinese rural migrants. Hitherto, anthropological research has only in very few instances taken on a specific inquiry of the welfare of Chinese rural migrants from a media usage perspective. Today, China has 130 million rural migrants. Under a system of rigid household registration, even today, rural migrants do not have the same rights or access to the same services (healthcare, education, housing, etc.) compared with their urban counterparts. One of the major problems rural migrants face is that they have been uprooted from their social networks back in their home villages, which has further deprived them from essential support. This study thus aims to lead to a comprehensive understanding of social consequences of social media among Chinese rural migrants.
My PhD supervisor Professor Daniel Miller is a leading anthropologist in the field of Material Culture and Digital Anthropology. My PhD research is integrated in his European Research Council project under the title Social Networking Sites and Social Science. This project is based on a comparative ethnographic study in seven different countries (www.gsmis.org). I am now doing my 15 months fieldwork at a small factory town in southeast China. Meanwhile, since 2012, I have undertaken the translation of the book Digital Anthropology (Heather & Miller 2012) into Chinese, which will be published by Chinese People’s publishing house, the most prestigious publishing house in China, later this year (2013).
Congratulations again to 2013′s other fellows introduced in this series so far, Daniel Perera Bahamón, Elisabeth Kago Nébié and Ana Majkic! All the best luck to you on your studies and continuing career in anthropology!